In appreciation of International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March 2018, a day for global celebrations and recognition of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, we pay homage to 10 female powerhouses from all walks of life who have made their mark.
With countless inspirational women of colour as figures worthy of celebration, we took the chance to put the spotlight (in no particular order) on just a handful of women we look up to, women we aspire to and women who have worked hard to make a difference in their respective fields.
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama. A lawyer, writer and First Lady of the United States of America from 2009 to 2017. Not only is she an academic figure, having graduated from Princeton and Harvard Law School, her humanitarian efforts made a worldwide impact and a First Lady with a difference. We love Michelle Obama because she sets an example as a hardworking, intelligent mother of two. On top of all that, she’s a fashion icon, renowned for her timelessly elegant style. We’ll be first in line when she drops her highly anticipated memoir, Becoming, on 13 November 2018!
Born Marguerite Annie Johnson, Maya Angelou was a civil rights activist among many other caps that she wore. A poet, singer, memoirist, and writer, she was best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult life. Her first of seven, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sing, a particular favourite, is a touching memoir of her life up to the age of 17. We love Maya Angelou for showing that no matter how hard times can be, there’s always a greater purpose.
The American actress and producer, Viola Davis was the first black woman to be nominated for three Academy Awards, finally bagging one for her standout performance in Fences. She also holds the accolade of being the only black actor to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting. As if that wasn’t enough, she’s been listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world as well. We love Viola Davis for her outspoken regard for her true worth, limitless talent, strength and of course, her radiant beauty.
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter is not just a worldwide R&B musical icon, she’s a mother of three and a woman in power who has made a huge impact on owning her sexuality, being a fearless black woman in business. The list of Queen B’s talents is endless. We love Beyoncé for her unapologetic confidence teamed with humbleness and infectious self-belief. Such is her all-round fabulousness that a single post from her is worth more than $1 million in advertising value.
Malorie Blackman, OBE changed the children’s and young adult literature scene with her acclaimed book Noughts and Crosses. She was Children’s Laureate for two years from 2013 and her unique writing style brought to life a fictional dystopia that helps children explore prominent racial issues in society. We love Malorie Blackman for her courageous approach to children’s education and her achievements in literature. The impact her books have had on generations cannot be underestimated.
At just 20 years old, Malala Yousafzai has achieved what many strive for in a lifetime. The strife which she encountered in her young life didn’t deter her and she is one of the youngest well-known female activists of our generation. She is famed for being the youngest Nobel Prize Laureate for her human rights work in Swat Valley, northwest Pakistan, where the Taliban had banned girls attending school. At just 11 years old, she wrote a blog about her life for the BBC. We love Malala Yousafzai for her willpower and bravery, showing every young girl that they can achieve anything they set their heart to.
British Labour politician, Diane Julie Abbott was appointed Shadow Home Secretary in 2016, after being MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington in the 1987 general election making her the first ever black woman to hold a seat in the House of Commons. We love Diane Abbott because despite suffering racial abuse, sexism and continued undermining in the press, she never falters. A quick read of her political resume, will bring renewed respect for this motivating British political figure.
Margaret Ebunoluwa Aderin-Pocock MBE is an incredible role model in the world of space science and education. Not only is she an Honorary Research Associate at UCL’s Physics and Astronomy Department, she’s also a co-presenter for The Sky at Night. We love Maggie Aderin-Pocock not only for her obvious love and enthusiasm for her chosen career, but also for her standing as an influential woman scientist, and for flying the flag for women of colour in a male and Caucasian-dominated industry.
Serena Jameka Williams, world-famous American tennis player has 23 Grand Slam titles under her belt. We’ve previously highlighted 10 times she slayed and served. Her obvious physical strength and self-belief in her abilities are inspirational and beautiful. Although the champion has taken a break recently to enjoy maternity leave, she’s never too far from our social media timelines as she continues to slay as a yummy mummy as well. We love Serena Williams for showing her vulnerability and strength as a mother.
Karen Blackett is the chairwoman for MediaCom UK and WPP’s first UK country manager. Queen of the advertising industry, she always knew as a black female, she would have to work “twice as hard.” We love Karen Blackett for showing resilience in the world of business and being a figure of reinforcement for every black woman entrepreneur who wants to make it in business, media and advertising. One of our five female gurus running the show in the media industry, Karen is goals.
Naomi Elaine Campbell will forever be Britain’s sassy sweetheart. The model, actress, and singer burst into the industry at the tender age of 15 and doesn’t look a day over 21 to this day. She was one of six models in her generation to be named a “supermodel” and for good reason. We love Naomi Campbell for her fearless attitude, graft in the fashion industry and for being an all-round bad-ass with a good ass.